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Tom Honor and Bill Burnside have been part of the local music community for many years now, and their latest outfit, dubbed Burnside and Honor Among Friends, is likely to please those of you who wish Denver was still the country-rock capital of the world. There's no track listing on their self-titled demo, but their songs (about Colorado sunsets and the like) are tuneful throwbacks to yesteryear (738-8873). Luis Munoz, a Costa Rica-born drummer, composer and bandleader whose album The Fruit of Eden appears on Fahrenheit Records (a spinoff from Denver's F2 Entertainment group) invites you to experience the quieter side of the Latin-jazz sound. "Calipso de las Americas" sports a fairly punchy horn chart, but it's the exception, not the rule; most of the other cuts here move at a deliberate tempo that won't startle any of your dinner guests. "Argentina" gave me a nice, "Girl From Ipanema" feeling, but most of the rest fell into the pleasant-wallpaper category (available in area record stores).

Put together the name Old Soul and the fact that the band with that handle moved from Los Angeles to Boulder, and you'll wind up with certain expectations. The band's self-titled CD (released by Celsius, a newly activated label that's also affiliated with F2 conforms to most of them. These guys are good players, and when they put their backs into a song such as "Oldest Religion," they can give it a decent boost. But like most jammers, they could use a strong dose of restraint (almost every song here goes on for longer than it should), and their idea of effective melodrama ("Crush Embrace") is my idea of nausea. Then again, I might not be this group's target audience. After all, Blues Traveler is not my cup of joe (available in area record stores). Another Boulder performer, Naomi Tobias, comes from a separate musical tradition: She's a confessional/poetic singer-songwriter, as exemplified by her new CD, Rising. "Madre del Mundo (Mother of the World)," in which Tobias uses menstruation as a metaphor ("Full moon, I am bleeding/Bleeding as all women do/For all of humanity"), will determine how receptive you'll be to her work. If you chuckle--as I must confess I did--you may as well get off the bus before it leaves the station. But listeners more sentient than I may well be impressed by the folk-pop "Enough Is Enough," the spritely "Phoenix," the pristine production values and Tobias's voice, which is alternately gentle and steely. And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go to a male-sensitivity seminar my wife wants me to attend (available in area record stores).

Harry Bruckner, whose death in December was noted in last week's column, will be memorialized at a benefit concert Monday, January 20, at the Little Bear. Among those scheduled, at press time, to play are Tom Butters, the Kenny Cox Band, Turner & Crowley, Cool Shooz, Mary Flower and Runaway Express. Those unable to attend can send contributions to the Harry Bruckner Memorial Fund, c/o Runaway Express, P.O. Box 2333, Englewood 80150.

Meanwhile, another musician with Colorado connections has apparently died: Randy California, longtime guitarist for the band Spirit. According to Mike Nile, owner of Denver's Alley Records and a sometime Spirit member, California was visiting his mother in Hawaii on January 2 when he and his son Quinn were caught in an undertow. "Randy was able to throw Quinn on a wave, and he washed back to shore," Nile recounts. "But when Quinn turned around, Randy was gone." The Coast Guard stopped searching for the musician the following week; at press time, he was listed as disappeared and presumed drowned. Nile, who notes that another Spirit player, George Valuck, resides in Golden, doesn't know what California's passing means for the group, whose fine 1967 album The 12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus was reissued on CD by Legacy/ Epic late last year. "We're all in a state of shock," he says.

Ludwig Hnatkowycz, who retired from playing bass with the Jinns a few years back only to subsequently return to the fold, has gone and done it again--retire, that is. Bandleader Pete Nalty says that the latest Jinns bassist is Marty Parrot, formerly of Truth of the Matter and Jetredball. Catch the new lineup on Friday, January 17, at the 15th Street Tavern, where the Jinns open for Slim Cessna's Auto Club. Also on Friday, the Homewreckers perform as a "Delta duo" at Arthur's, and the first in a series of performances by some of Colorado's best female musicians takes place at the Mercury Cafe: It features Vicki Taylor and Mary Stribling & Combo Amazo. And on Saturday, January 18, Fragile X celebrates the release of its new CD, A Drop in Time, at the Skyline Cafe, and the Swans bring their farewell tour to the Bluebird Theater. As for the rest of the week, you're on your own.

--Michael Roberts

Backbeat's e-mail address is Michael_Roberts@ westword.comMichael_Roberts@. While you're online, visit Michael Roberts's Jukebox at www.westword.com

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